Prosper Ndlovu , Business Editor
THE heightened implementation of capital projects in Matabeleland provinces is stimulating local business and creating more job opportunities for communities, which enhances the region’s contribution to mainstream economy.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Ncube, said this in an exclusive interview in Bulawayo, where he stressed that the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa was geared to transforming the region, and ensuring that it does not lag behind in terms of development.
Consistent with the National Development Strategy (NDS1:2021-2025) and the country’s devolution thrust, Prof Ncube, who was in the city to attend the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, said the Government has every desire to make sure that “no place and no region” is left behind.
Through increased budgetary support and working closely with the private sector, he said the Government was scoring major successes in implementing key infrastructure projects in Matabeleland, including those that have been in limbo for many years.
Among the key projects is the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrade, re-opening of Ekusileni Hospital after 17 years ago of closure, Bulawayo water development projects, major irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation, Lupane Provincial Hospital and the US$1,5 billion Hwange Power Station Expansion.
Under Bulawayo water projects, huge focus is being directed to the massive multi-million-dollar Lake Gwayi-Shangani project, whose completion is due by the end of this year. The project is a critical component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, which has been a pipe dream since 1912.
According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) the 600MW Hwange units 7 and 8 expansion project was 67,9 percent complete as at end of July, and due for total completion next year.
Several other projects are at different stages of implementation focusing on social amenities, livestock development, housing and transportation, which is guided by the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP). While local businesses are participating in the projects as suppliers of key materials, some are involved as contractors, with individual experts and ordinary people being roped in as workers.
“We have projects focusing specifically on Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North. Here I am just highlighting a few projects that are quite important in the development of Matabeleland that will create jobs and show that Government is determined not to leave anyone behind,” said Prof Ncube.
“There is Gwayi-Shangani Dam where we have really put a lot of our effort this side of the year to complete that dam and the target is December.
“We are pushing very hard towards that date and next year we will push the pipeline that will then decant that water and convey it into Matabeleland region, creating a greenbelt and finally to Bulawayo to feed the Bulawayo water demands.”
The minister said Bulawayo’s perennial water shortage must be dealt with once and for all, hence the Government last year deployed resources to scale-up borehole system at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer, as a short-term measure.
“I have noticed that Bulawayo is consuming something like 154 megalitres a day of water and part of the water is coming from the Nyamandlovu Aquifer whose output was ramped up by the borehole project. So, that’s an important project in Bulawayo that Bulawayo and the Government achieved,” he said.
Prof Ncube said Bulawayo was also a major beneficiary of the Government’s ERRP, which has seen 65 of its major roads, including Maseyepambili Drive, being targeted under an estimated $625 million budget.
The minister said the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrade in Matabeleland South, which is being implemented through a public-private partnership arrangement with ZimBorders, was the biggest investment for any city so far in the country.
“I cannot think of any investment of that size in any city that has taken place in the past 30 years. That is quite a massive investment. That will stimulate local demand and create jobs,” he noted.
“We expect that at the beginning of October the commercial port/route will be opened so that trucks will begin to use that followed by the passenger port and other parts of the facility will be opened in due course so that is progress in the Beitbridge area.”
Despite pressure on state resources, Prof Ncube said two other projects in Matabeleland South — Thuli-Manyange Dam, which is under construction as well as the Gwanda-Maphisa Road, were being prioritised. He also revealed that Matabeleland South was a major beneficiary of the public borehole drilling programme.
“In Matabeleland South we have a large number of boreholes drilled, we have about 160 boreholes, in fact there is another instance in Matobo where we drilled 22 boreholes,” said Prof Ncube.
“As a country we have revamped and drilled about 3 000 boreholes and Mat South stands out in the country as the largest beneficiary in the borehole drilling.”
In Matabeleland North, Prof Ncube said the Government has set aside resources to rehabilitate Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road, Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane Road, which is expected to cut distance from Harare-Midlands and linking with Vic-Falls.
Moving to hospitals, Prof Ncube said there is “excellent progress” in terms of revamping the doctors’ cottages at Mpilo Central Hospital that were gutted by fire a few months ago.
“We are determined to finish those in a few months and also to re-develop the mortuary, and through these resources from the IMF (SDR funds), we will further upgrade the central health facilities,” he said.
“We have seen the development in Ekusileni, which has been revamped and we appreciate the support from the corporate sector. A lot has been happening and it is pleasing we have tried to achieve in the projects what has not been done in 30 to 40 years.”
The minister said efforts were also underway to invest more in the housing sector with focus on projects such as the redevelopment of Makokoba, one of the oldest suburbs in Bulawayo.